Journal of Brand Management

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 305–321 | Cite as

Does the type of attribute matter? Examining whether underlying factors explain product attribute preference

  • Dean C. H. WilkieEmail author
  • Lester W. Johnson
  • Wynne W. Chin
Original Article


Most research into product attribute preferences suggests that innovation through enhanced attributes is superior to innovation through unique attributes, yet the marketplace success of new products with unique attributes challenges these assessments. To determine whether the type of attribute matters, this study examines how two underlying factors explain product attribute preference. First, a schema congruity theoretical framework proposes that perceived differences and confidence both mediate attribute type effects. Second, the authors test whether product attribute preferences result from the specific forms of enhanced or unique attributes. Consumer evaluations of 13 line extensions demonstrate that perceived differences and confidence strongly mediate the effects of the type of attribute on product preferences. The effects of the specific attribute form on preferences are comparable to those of enhanced and unique attributes. This effect similarly is mediated by perceived difference and confidence. This study thus provides several contributions for schema congruity theory, including a demonstration of two inverted U-shaped relationships involving perceived difference. For managers, uncovering the influence of consumers’ perceptions of differences and confidence can help them market new products that feature either type or various forms of attributes.


Product attributes Partial least squares Unique attribute Enhanced attribute 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dean C. H. Wilkie
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lester W. Johnson
    • 2
  • Wynne W. Chin
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Marketing and ManagementUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Swinburne Business SchoolSwinburne University of TechnologyHawthornAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Decision and Information SciencesUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA

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